Thursday, December 30, 2010

Crazy Windy

Yesterday we had another huge rainstorm pass through. It rained long and hard. Once the rain stopped, massive wind kicked in. The wind was so strong it reminded me of the wind in the city I grew up in. Growing up, it would be so windy that our backyard fence would blow over on a regular basis. The wind was also so strong growing up that I can remember walking home from school once, into the wind, and then suddenly laying on my back on the ground. Yeah, I blew over!

Last night, according to some news reports, the winds were gusting at 60 - 70 MPH in some areas. I'm thinking it was gusting almost at that speed at my place. I began to hear the wind and the trees blowing and for a moment thought it was rain. I then went out to my patio and noticed that the tarp draped over a patio chair (thanks to painters that never picked it up) had blown off the chair. I should tell you that the patio, where not fully enclosed, is pretty enclosed and generally protects from the elements. I knew the wind was strong when I saw that tarp on the ground.

Flash back a few years ago. Rain and winds were the norm and one night while sitting on above-mentioned chair in rather enclosed patio, I began to hear an eerie sound that I can only describe as "scraping". I looked around and noticed that all of the tall and huge trees in the complex courtyard were moving back and forth in the wind and thought that the scraping sound must have been the trunks scraping against the awnings of the upstairs units. This noise and weather continued throughout the night and in the wee hours of the morning, I recall being stirred out of my sound sleep by a noise. I immediately fell back to sleep, but when I did get up that morning, got ready and began to head out, I noticed that a very tall palm tree had crashed to the ground, with the top of the tree laying on the ground outside my bedroom window.

So, last night, I heard that same "scraping" sound while in my kitchen and did open the sliding door to the patio to listen. I didn't hear anything at that point, so I was really unable to determine just where that sound was coming from. This morning, as I was hitting the snooze button on my alarm, I became aware of the sound of work going on outside. The loud sounds of saws and power machines and noisy vehicles. I kept thinking, "what the hell are they doing so early?" The city I live in has an ordinance that states loud work cannot begin until 8am, yet this was well before that.

When I finally did get up, shower, feed the cats and get coffee, I opened the kitchen window blinds and saw the cause of the early morning noise. A huge tree in front of my kitchen had blown over, completely blocking the street. It landed on two cars parked across the street. No one was hurt.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Update on Bessie

The Christmas Holiday has come and gone. Actually, it seemed like it snuck up on me quickly and was over in a blink of an eye. I can't say that this year found me with the holiday spirit at all. I don't like feeling that way, as I've always loved holidays, and this one in particular.

My grandmother, Lola, had an older sister Bessie who died in 1976. Once I had a copy of her obituary, I began searching for the named survivors. In this case it was her two "nieces" Lillian and Grace. From my research, I was able to determine that Lillian and Grace were nieces by marriage, but I feel that they felt more like blood relatives (my speculation here). After hours of research via my favorite on-line tools ( and, I was able to gather names and begin the search for living descendants. I found them and did reach out. I did hear back from a great granddaughter of Grace who put my sister and I in touch with her aunt and after a few messages back and forth, communication stopped (probably due to busy schedules).

We also reached out to Lillian's grandson (or who we believed was Lillian's grandson). Several months after sending a message, we heard back from him! Lillian was his grandmother and he has an aunt living in Illinois that does know about "Aunt Bessie" and believes she has pictures of her (she is in possession of Lillian's pictures)!

I am so excited about this! I'm so hoping for pictures and to find out what she may know about Bessie, as from what I can gather, Bessie had a long history with that family. I have always believed that someone, somewhere knows about my grandmother's family, even if it is only information about individual family members and not the entire family saga. I am beginning to piece together the saga myself, except of course, for Lola.

More to come on that as the grandson said he'd try to find out more about the pictures this coming weekend! That should be a cool way to start the new year indeed. A little over a year ago, I didn't even know about Bessie and now I might get pictures and more information about her life.

As excited as I am about this, I still do not know any more about Lola, thanks to the brickwalls. The other drag here is that my goal was to find out what happened to Lola and translate that into a really interesting book and then be on Oprah (probably a goal shared by many). This really interesting book would also tell the stories of Lola's family members as they have turned out to be quite fascinating (in my opinion), especially my great grandmother, Effie, as well as tell the stories of the journey and the people I've met along the way. I thought it would be so cool to have everyone that I've found who descends from my grandmother's family, on that episode. But, not to be. Imagine my horror when I found out that the current shows are the LAST shows. Need to now rethink that goal!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Song of the Week - 21

So another long period of time has come and gone since my last "Song of the Week" post. Actually, too many periods of time are passing in between any posts lately. This past weekend went by fast (as most do). Friday night started off with a fabulous Christmas dinner party for the department I work in. It was a very nice evening. Besides that, the weekend found me sleeping, working on cleaning up a few of my images so that I can relist items in my Etsy shop, listing a few new prints, running errands. Then suddenly it was Sunday night. Where does the time go?

I am so much more aware of time now that I'm older than I ever was when I was younger. Does it truly go by faster as we get older, or are we just more aware of it? Am I at an age where I'm aware of the fact that I don't have "all the time in the world" and now it seems to be slipping away? I'm surely not the only one that wonders about this.

So Sunday evening as I was sitting on my patio, this week's song popped into my head. It probably did because I was in the midst of wondering where the hell the weekend went! When I went back into the house, I did an Internet search of the song and just couldn't believe that it was recorded 40 years ago! Wow. I remember being a kid and hearing it on the radio. I also remember my older sis having an album with this song on it. I can't really say if it was the debut album or if she had a "best of", but I do remember hearing it on the radio, her album playing on the console stereo and singing this song. Dare I say, it is timeless!

How can it be that I am now eligible for AARP, and nowhere near where my teen self would have expected me to be in life. Somehow, through the years, I lost touch with the dreams of my teen self and fell into line with the "norm" - get a job, blah, blah, blah. It's been OK as I've earned money and made some good friends along the way, but it hasn't been heart driven, and therefore, does not make a happy person. I rather, just go through the motions daily and feel depleted. I really need to make changes and soon, as time waits for no one (to quote The Rolling Stones)!

What would I really like? I would really like to draw, paint, write, find my grandmother, print on fabric, and get paid to do this. Oh, and be happy at the same time. I don't think that's too "out there" or too much to ask for. Just need to figure out how to make that a reality. I also hope that what I create in pure joy, brings that to others. In the meantime...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Great Uncle Paul

My grandfather, Red, was one of many kids. He was the son of James and Hattie. In addition to Red, James and Hattie had four other sons (George, Harry, Ralph and Paul) and one daughter (Lillie). James and Hattie divorced and both remarried. Hattie then had another daughter (Edna) with her second husband and a son (Joe) with her third husband. James remarried and I believe had more children, but I haven't quite confirmed that yet as I really have focused on Lola's family.

Having coming to a point where I'm not getting tons of information on Lola, I thought I should now focus on Red's family. I can't help but think that someone on that side of the family must have pictures of Red and Lola but just don't know who they are. I have some old pictures of Red's and don't know who all the people are, after all, so I have hope.

I knew that Red's younger brother, Paul, lived in California. Like his brothers, Paul was born in Illinois but at some point moved to California. From what I can tell, he spent his years in California (or at least most of them) in the northern part of the state. I have always heard of Paul, and the one story in particular that my dad used to tell. When my dad was young, he was going to a job interview and needed a nice jacket to wear, but he didn't have one. Red gave him one to wear and my dad really like that jacket. Apparently, Red took the jacket back and gave it to Paul. My dad was really bugged by that.

Prior to my now year long "journey" to the past, I pretty much knew Paul's name and the jacket story and that was about it. A few months back, I started going through memorabilia of Red's that I now have. He kept pictures and newsletters from the company he retired from. I also have his funeral book (he died in 1956). One day while looking through the guests listed in the funeral book I noticed "Paul, Bertie and family". I realized that was Paul because I had found Paul on the 1930 census living in San Francisco, California and married to a woman named Bertha (Bertie). They had been married for two years according to that census. Since the 1940 census has not yet been released, I haven't yet found names of the possible children of Paul and Bertie.

I then started looking through the company newsletters Red had and I suddenly noticed Paul's name with his team (he was a supervisor at the same glass manufacturing company Red worked for). I recognized him immediately from some of the photos I have of Red's with the people I couldn't identify. That was so exciting. I finally found a picture to associate with a name I had heard in the past. Funny thing is that I had flipped through those newsletters several times, but just never noticed this until that one day. Funny how that works.

Bertie died in Oakland, California in 1958. Paul died in San Leandro, California in 1971. For months, I kept thinking about ordering their death certificates in hopes of learning names of children so that I could try to find them. I considered ordering Bertie's but thought that Paul surely would have been the informant as the surviving spouse, so it was always in the back of my mind that I should order Paul's death certificate. That thought hung out in the back of my mind until Thanksgiving when I printed out the order form from Alameda county, filled it out, wrote the check for $14 and dropped it in the mail.

I got Paul's death certificate two days ago. When you order these vital records, you're really taking a chance as we know that the information is only as good as the informant. In other words, not all informants may know important facts. This was the case with Paul's d/c. Death certificates always have the names and places of birth of parents. Paul's parents names and birthplaces were unknown. The informant did know that Paul was a supervisor at the glass manufacturing company and had indicated he had been in California for 32 years. I know that isn't correct as that would mean he came to California in 1939. The 1930 census was my proof that that information was incorrect.

The d/c also listed Paul as a widower, which tells me he never remarried after Bertie's death. The informant was a Mrs. Cronin of Oakland, California. So, just who was this Mrs. Cronin? I wonder if that may have been Paul's daughter or a lady friend perhaps. However, if it was his daughter, wouldn't she have known the names of his parents? Hmm, maybe I will order Bertie's death certificate. Maybe one of the children did act as informant, and/or maybe the informant knew the names of her parents (something to build upon).

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Shop is Finally Open for Business

It took me forever, but I FINALLY listed items in my Etsy shop! Here's the link.

I opened the shop over a year ago, but that was the extent of it. I had also created the banner and the avatar, but just got caught up in the search for Lola, that the shop fell off my radar. It fell off my radar, yes, but was always in the back of my mind, haunting me.

Over this past weekend I added info about myself and my shop, the shop banner and avatar, policies and finally listed some items. That was a lot of work. I couldn't believe how much time it took. The hard part is over, and now to create more art to list.

I almost didn't achieve my goal here, as I wasn't happy with the pictures of the framed prints once I had viewed them on my computer. I decided that if I allowed that to stop me, then yet again, I'd have another failed goal and would wake up in the morning (and a Monday that I shall surely dread) feeling dissapointed. I couldn't allow that to happen again, so I used the pictures I had and listed items.

Trying to write a bio and shop policies was not easy to do. It probably seems easy enough, but it was tough. I had to check out other shops and take bits and pieces in order to develop my own, but it came together. Chances are, it will change, expand, whatever, as time goes on.

So, I have something I can actually cross off my 2010 goals - Etsy shop! I otherwise haven't done so well on those goals I set for this year.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving and Black Friday

Happy Thanksgiving! I do love this holiday as it is always a nice time to visit with family, friends and enjoy a good feast. I started prepping my food Wednesday night so that I wouldn't have much to but pop things in the oven on Thursday. With the exception of running out of maple syrup and running to the market on Thursday, the plan worked out pretty good.

I have my mom here for the holiday week. She is getting more forgetful and confused, even by her own admission. The other night she asked my younger sister if she was 58! My sis nearly shit bricks. The next morning, my mom did laugh about how she got so confused and thought my sister was 58.

After the big feast, my friend and I stepped outside to cut glass. She is quite good at it and I'm not, so I wanted a lesson. She will be back on Sunday and we will cut more glass and solder some charms!

I didn't have any overnight guests (besides my mom) and the dinner guests left rather early. That allowed me to crash at a decent hour in order to rise early for the Black Friday sales. I got up about 5:30 this morning, brushed my teeth and washed my face. Put on some foundation and concealer and threw on some clothes. Anyone that knows me, knows that that is for the most part, an impossible task. I never get ready for anything that fast, let alone go out in public without my make-up. I did apply some eyeliner and lip gloss in the car.

My sister and I made the trip to Staples, arriving there around 6:30. She was in need of a laptop and I wanted a Flip Video Camera. We lucked into great parking and walked right into the store. It wasn't too terribly crowded and my sister ran straight to a line she saw at the Easytech portion of the store. We read the sign and learned that you had to have vouchers if you were in that line. I walked to a sales associate and asked about that. She checked what was left and did have one for the Flip camera but not the laptop. I told my sis and she looked disappointed. Suddenly one of the Easytech guys came up and asked if we had any questions. We did and told him about the voucher issue. When my sister told him which laptop she wanted, he told her there was one voucher left and got it for her.

It was very well organized and the staff was extremely helpful and calm. We were in and out of Staples in under an hour! Once home, I had some much needed coffee and played around with the camera. Then I got busy taking pictures of some of my prints so that I can finally list items in my Etsy shop!

I opened the shop over a year ago and that was the extent of it. So today, I uploaded the shop banner and avatar and worked on the shop policies. I also did a few other things as well, like starting a new mixed media painting, but, I'd say that completely consumed my day and now as I type this, still no items have yet been listed. The goal is list some things THIS weekend.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Veterans Day

Happy Veterans Day! I, like so many people, have veterans in my life, my mom and my dad for example. Plus friends, cousins, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, colleagues, and so on. These brave people put me to shame as I never had it in my to enlist. Of course, I'm too old now, but when I wasn't, the thought of that level of discipline was a huge turn off.

Back in my younger days, my mouth would have landed me in Guantanamo the minute an authority figure ripped the sheets and blankets off of my bed when the quarter didn't bounce off of it! Some people join because they need that level of discipline and some of us shy away because we don't know that we might benefit from that discipline. Others though, didn't have the luxury of NOT enlisting. I admire those that make such a commitment. I know many that did (whether voluntarily or not) that did benefit from their service. Many of my contemporaries didn't see war, luckily, but got much value out of their time enlisted - they saw the world, learned responsibility, and much more.

To all the men and women that have served, whether by choice or not, I salute you! Thank you for your service.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Just a Short Post About my Great Grandfather

I'm so excited! I heard back from my great grandfather, George's, granddaughter. It was really a wonderful message. I know these people existed, as I exist, and I have seen the legal documents. Yet, somehow, hearing from someone that knew one of my relatives makes it all the more "real". This makes it even more real than when someone recently answered my photo request for a picture of his headstone on When I first saw that photo, I just stared at it. George's existence suddenly seemed real to me. A very clean and simple headstone with his name and years of birth and death.

Prior to that, my proof of him was scanned documents via and scanned articles I found on Now, suddenly I hear how he would rock this woman in his rocking chair when she was a little girl. She told me that she would then rock her children in that same rocking chair, and to this day, still has it. That made me smile (and tear up a bit). I should add that she is going to find pictures to send me of George and her grandmother, Grace (Grace was George's second, and last wife)! I can't wait!

One other thing, there was another granddaughter and she is also interested in being in contact and possibly has even more information on George. She and her mother actually lived with George and Grace. This is all so exciting to me.

More to come on this as it develops. These past two days I've been battling the cold or flu bug, so this short post is taking much energy. Until then...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

I have been rather quiet lately and that is mostly because I haven’t had much to say (If that could be possible). Since my last post, I have not yet written my letter to Metropolitan State Hospital, nor have I taken a trip there to present the letter that I haven’t yet written. I will do this sometime before the year is over.

Some Lola/family updates – I have recently reached out to some family members and have heard back from them. It is still early so I haven’t yet had pictures or stories, but I fully anticipate that in the near future.

Bessie (Lola’s sister) - I found and established contact with a great granddaughter of Bessie’s niece by marriage, Grace. She was able to put me in touch with her aunt who was raised by Grace and my sister and I are now waiting for information on both Bessie and her mysterious husband, Ben. As I write this, I have not been able to find any record of his death, nor can I find anything beyond the 1942 WWII draft registration he filled out.

George (Lola’s father) – In an interesting way, I found living relatives connected to George’s widow, Grace (yes, many Grace’s in the family). In the 1920 census, George was living with Grace and her two daughters in Decatur, IL as a boarder. George’s whereabouts in 1910 is still a mystery to me, but I was able to find him in 1915 (a few newspaper mentions); his 1918 WWI draft registration; the 1918 WWI draft registration of his son, George, listed him as nearest relative. By the 1930 census, George and Grace were married and her daughters are no longer living in the home with them. The man I reached out to is the grandson of Grace’s daughter Mary. I found him, along with his mother and brother, mentioned in an online family tree when I did a Google search of his grandmother, Mary. Once I had a name, I searched Facebook and found him and sent him a message. I also sent one to his brother. He is going to bring my request to his mother’s attention. She was a young girl when George passed away, so she may remember him or at the very least have pictures!

So now, I sit back and wait! That’s the hardest part. I have found and reached out to so many people and think about how cool it would be if someone did the same to me. I haven’t yet had that experience, but I would be SO excited, and that is probably because I did not know of these people nor did I grow up in a home where their pictures lined the hallway walls. Wanting to know “where you come from” is an interesting thing.

Do you have missing pieces in your family? Do tell me, I'm not alone! Welcome your comments.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

State Hospitals and Brick Walls

In my search for my grandmother, Lola, I have hit the dreaded brick walls again. I have been able to find and make contact with living family members that I never knew existed, and am now waiting to hear back from them. I hope that they might know something about my grandmother, but I am also looking forward to learning about the family that I never knew, whether or not anyone knows about my grandmother.

Today, I decided that my next recourse is to yet again, reach out to Metropolitan State Hospital (Norwalk State Hospital). This time I shall do it in writing. I have followed their instructions in the past – instructions to contact them, but to no avail. All I was told was that I’d need a court order. When I asked how to go about obtaining that dreaded court order, no one is willing to tell me.

I need to write this letter and take a day or two off, go to the hospital and hand it to someone, someone that I can actually make eye contact with. Someone that can look me in the eye and tell me that I need to get a court order. You see, according to their instructions:

Unfortunately, due to state and federal confidentiality laws, information that can be disclosed is strictly limited. In most cases, these confidentiality laws prevail over any request for patient records from an entity, including family member, other than the patient him/herself, even if the patient is deceased.

I can’t help but wonder just who these laws protect. I somehow doubt the patient is the protected party here. Patients in the past, were easily committed and then subject to hideous treatments (shock treatment and the like) and oftentimes were women, committed by spouses that just didn’t want to deal with them when they felt the need to stray. I also wonder if women that were abandoned by their spouses, left penniless, to fend for themselves and their children were subject to state hospital induction. Imagine having children, no income, and spouse that split. That might lead the neighbors to think your behavior is “crazy” and you just might need to be taken away.

All this aside, there is no reason to prevent family members from having information. My grandmother did live and she was in a state hospital. I CANNOT find any indication of her life beyond a 1932 city directory yet I know she was alive after that. The last time my father said he saw her was when she was in the hospital and at the urging of his first wife. I figure that was between 1939 and 1942 as they married in 1940 and were divorced by 1942. I cannot find my grandmother’s death certificate. It is possible (yet I am not convinced) that she was released from the hospital and moved away or remarried and died under a different name. Of course, I feel, I will never know this if I cannot get any information from the hospital.

All I can say is that I hope just one of these employees has the same experience and realizes what it is like being absolutely denied any information. Yet, on the other hand I know that they’d know how to avoid their own tricks and get information they needed. What a shitty system.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Thick Lentil Barley Soup on a Rainy Night

Probably like most people, I grew having warm comfort foods for dinner on cold and rainy days. My mom was famous for throwing soups and stews together for a yummy meal on a cold night. She was also famous for her ironing skills. I never got the ironing gene, but I did get the cooking gene.

After the heatwave of last week, this week's weather is a welcome change. It is something insane like 50 degrees cooler this week than last Monday! It has been cold, cloudy and rainy. Love it. I really love to cook in this weather. I decided to make my thick lentil and barley soup with drop biscuits for dinner. That is a hearty and warming meal and suits this cold weather well.

This is one of the dishes I just kind of made up so there aren't many "measurements" here. The spices and seasonings are by taste. Start with a Dutch oven and add olive oil, 2 stalks of celery chopped, 4 cloves of garlic chopped, one chopped onion and 2 carrots chopped. Sautee until soft.

In the meantime, rinse and drain one cup of lentils and one half cup of barley.

When veggies are soft, add the drained lentils and barley to the Dutch oven and stir. Then add 32 ounces of vegetable broth plus 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Also add a can of sliced mushrooms.

Now for the seasonings and spices. I use black pepper, dried oregano and basil, a pinch of salt, and cumin. I just sprinkle it in, eyeballing it, really. Simmer and cover, cooking on low heat for about 45 minutes. Note - no cats were harmed in the making of this soup, nor was any paint added to the recipe!

I also add Braggs Liquid Aminos. I swear by Braggs and use it almost daily in my cooking. It is an all purpose seasoning and a soy sauce alternative.

After 45 minutes (and during the cooking) taste it and adjust spices and seasonings according to taste.

I also made a batch of drop biscuits. This is an easy thing to make. Use one and one half cups of Heart Smart Bisquick and half a cup of soy milk. Mix and drop spoons of the batter onto an un-oiled baking sheet and cook at 450 degrees for 9 minutes.

Serve up in a bowl and enjoy! This recipe will not only leave your kitchen smelling good, but leaves plenty for leftovers.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

What a Week

This past week was a trip. We had the most horrific heatwave in Los Angeles. The past weekend was hot, but NOTHING like Monday was. OMG, if I ever imagined hell, that was it!

Busy and stress filled week at work, although it did fly by. I know I'll get my work "groove" back, but the new job is so different from what I'm used to that I'm in constant "fear" of screwing something up.

I actually heard back from the granddaughter of Lola's first cousin, Hazelle! I had sent Hazelle's son a Facebook message, explaining who was and why I was reaching out to him. A few days later, his daughter sent me a Facebook friend request. I have sent her pdfs of the obituaries I received for Edna and her family, but am not sure if they were received and do need to follow up on that. Actually, I've sent pdfs to a few people and only heard back from one that they were received.

Also this week, I began to notice on my tree that there was some "Member Connect Activity" involving the family of my dad's first wife, Fern. Someone related on Fern's father's side of the family added documents to her tree, but also added the profile and pictures of my dad and his wives! I was so excited to see that! For so long, no one has had my family on their tree, so this was very cool.

We lost two legends this week, Eddie Fisher and Tony Curtis. Tony Curtis made an appearance on one of my favorite shows, The Flintstones. The Flintstones had a milestone anniversary this week - 50 years! To this day, I cannot find a cartoon that quite lives up. The creativity of that show still entertains me and to this day I record and watch it.

Happy 50th Flintstones! Funny, I had a 50th this year too, and so have/are many of my friends!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Song of the Week 20

Long time since this "feature" made an appearance. I don't know why except that life has the habit of getting in the way of fun things. And, life for me hasn't been so fun lately.

Sometimes I just think I'm too old for change and stress. Knots in my stomach daily do not serve me well, nor do they serve anyone well. I am among the few that do not believe you must experience pain and discomfort in order to "grow". I have a job and I'm thankful for that, but, it is no longer the job I knew and loved. I know this is a development thing for me, but I'm not a young person desiring a huge title. I want to write and be an artist. I wake up in the morning having had dreams about work and things I didn't understand or do right and just hate that. If I died tomorrow, what did I accomplish? I hate to think of that.

So now we have John Lennon. He was murdered at 40 years old. He was 10 years younger than I am now, and contributed so much in his life. Had he lived, he'd be 70 years old in October. Yeah, he was murdered almost 30 years ago. I was a kid that grew up believing in Karma and as I got older "really" understood that. Somehow, though, I don't know that I've lived up to what I was taught. Or have I? I had dreams, yet I was told to be responsible (live differently than my dreams) and be able to put food on the table. Not sure why living your dreams and putting food on the table differ, but, whatever.

I know many people do live their dreams and put food on the table. Somehow, I just haven't achieved that yet. But, I do believe it's possible. The struggle, though, is keeping that dream in sight, while feeling miserable and sick and just out of control. Never an easy task. Daily, I am reminded of the fact that I've become the person I swore I never would be and feel rather disturbed by that. I really need to make some changes, and before it's too late. As the song says, "why in the world are we here, surely not to live in pain and fear".

In honor of John Lennon, Song of the Week, and my dark mood (hoping for a bit of enlightenment), Instant Karma.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sundays Are a Drag, and Other Thoughts

How does it go from Friday night to Sunday night so quickly? Traditionally, I begin to get a real down feeling about 3:30 on Sunday. Why? Because my weekend, my free time, is ending.

While talking with my mom today, she said that Sundays are a drag. I couldn't agree more, except I know our definitions of that differ. For her, Sundays are long and boring with nothing to do and nothing on TV. For me, Sundays are a reminder of my free time slipping out of my hands and that soon, Monday will arrive. The weekend will be over and I'll be back to the grind (as they say).

I don't know why I can't seem to get good pictures during daylight, so when it gets dark, I generally think about taking pictures and then they just look like crap. Here's an example. This is a bad picture of the dishtowel I did using spray paint and the stencils I cut from watercolor paper. I do need to try some more of these to get the look I really want.

What I did here was lay the cats and words stencils on the towel and then spritz with the fabric spray paint. I think I got a little carried away and some paint landed in areas that I wanted to remain white. Oh well, it was the first attempt. I am trying to build my inventory so that I can list items on Etsy. Hell, I actually created an Etsy store a year ago and that is as far as it has gotten - being created. I really need to focus on that and really need to do it soon as that is one of my 2010 goals. Plus, I would so hate to fail at that goal (as I have with too many others in the past).

Well, the story of my great grandmother Effie's sister, Edna, is slowing coming together. I got her obituary in the mail on Friday. She died in Denver in 1948 at 72 years old. She had four children that survived, yet only three survived her. As with many women of her era, she gave birth to children that died young. From what I can tell, Edna and her husband Wes, lost at least one child very young. Her oldest son Everett died in Monterey County, California in 1943. He was 42 years old. He died from rheumatic heart failure. Edna's husband Wes had died in 1933. They lived in Laramie, Wyoming, having moved there in 1910. Wes was an engineer with Union Pacific Railroad. From Edna's obituary I learned that her oldest daughter, Rose, was from Denver, so I imagine Edna moved there with her daughter after Wes died.

Edna's younger son, Elzie, was also living in Denver when he died one year later (1949)at 50 years old. Her daughters, Rose and Hazelle ended up in Southern California (I'm not yet sure when or how) and Rose died here in 1960 and Hazelle in 1987. The sad thing is that I was living in a neighboring community to Hazelle in 1987 and never knew of her, let alone knew her. I did get the name of her son from Edna's obituary and I think I've found him living in Orange County, California. I did mention in my earlier post that I was going to reach out to him, but I haven't done that yet and will do so this week.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


My very interesting great grandmother, Effie, had many sisters and brothers (more sisters though). Among them was her sister Edna. From all the documents and obituaries I found, Edna and her family lived in Laramie, WY.

Besides finding Edna in obituaries from the 1920s and 1930s, I did find her in some US census reports with her family. I knew her married name and knew the names of her children because of the census reports. I then found what appeared to be one of her sons, Everett, had died in Monterey County, California, in 1943. It took me a little while, but I finally began to look for Edna and her family. When I hit the oh so common brickwall with Lola (which is now pretty constant) I begin looking elsewhere in her family, and it was now time to focus on the elusive Edna.

Edna married Wes in the late 1890s and they had four children (possibly more that may have died young) in Illinois. By 1910, Edna and her family lived in Texas and by 1930 (census) they were in Wyoming. Oddly enough, I cannot find all of them in 1920.

So, I took action. I sent my application and money to Monterey County, California for Everett's death certificate. I also found Everett's grave on I then decided to post to the Wyoming message boards and when I did that I noticed a woman had posted back in February of this year, that she was available to go photograph graves in a particular area (happened to be where Everett was buried). No one had ever replied to her (at least on the boards) so I did! I am so glad I did respond to her! What a gem she turned out to be!

She not only went to the cemetery and took photos, she informed me of Everett's wife that I wasn't yet aware of. I gave her information on the family and she went to the library and genealogical society in her area and found TONS of info on Edna and her family and has shared that with me! She even found Edna's obituary as well Edna's son, Elzie's obituary. These documents are in the mail now and I can't wait to get them! Turns out, Edna's youngest daughter Hazelle died in Southern California in 1987. Another missed opportunity to meet family. I now will look for Hazelle's children and/or grandchildren to reach out to.

I'll be able to share more on them once I get these docs and can do more research. I cannot say it enough - genealogist are the most generous people I've encountered. These are people that are so giving and willing to help a stranger. I am daily amazed by them. If you're at all interested in doing your own research, please do. You will be like me - amazed at the kindness of strangers!

More to come. PS - I did take pictures of the before mentioned stenciled dishtowel, but the picutres came out bad. I'll take better pictures and post later.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Labor Day

It was one year ago today, the Labor Day holiday, that my search for Lola began in full force. Prior to that, a friend started my family tree in his account and gave my sister and I "editor" rights. My sister owns the Ancestry account, and I have added many people to the tree and have become rather obsessive with doing research. I have reached out to others when I felt the hints made sense. I have found all kinds of people that we never knew existed. I grew up feeling that my mom had a family (mostly in Canada where she was born) but that my dad had none, except for his sister and her family.

So, since the hard-core search that began one year ago, I have found my grandmother's parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, along with spouses and in-laws and nieces. I've also been really lucky to find living descendants and have reached out to them. I've heard back from some and am hoping for pictures and stories and answers. Surely, my reaching out to these people must be odd. I just keep thinking that I'd be elated if someone reached out to me, but that hasn't yet happened.

I have found the great granddaughter of Lola's sister Bessie's niece, Grace! She has promised to reach out to her aunt who was raised by Grace. This is exciting as I might be able to get info, pictures and stories about Bessie and her family! I'm also trying to reach out to the family of my great grandfather, George's second wife. George married a woman named Grace after he and Effie divorced. Grace had two daughters, Mary and Catherine. Mary had a daughter who is still alive and would have been about 7 years old when George died. I tried reaching out to her via, but haven't heard back. I then tried reaching out to her son, via his ancestry tree, but to no avail. I did find one other option - another son on Facebook. That message is going out tomorrow.

The other thing that will happen tomorrow? I'll post some of my art! I fully planned to do that before now, but I had so much to do (errands, oil change, etc.) and didn't do any of it yesterday because it was so freaking hot. I don't have A/C in the car, so I am very careful these days about my running around. I did the errands today because I fully believed the news reports that it was going to be considerably cooler out. Not true at all. It was hot as hell.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Girls and their Dads

This past week was very stressful at work. It flew by and I felt like I was just not on my game at all. I really hate feeling that way, and don't know that I agree with the concept that in order to grow we have to step out of our comfort zone. This was my three day weekend (which flew by) and included a hair appointment on Friday and a fun craft party on Saturday. Last night I stayed up late cutting stencils while watching a biography on Led Zeppelin. That was cool and actually made me feel like "me", rather than some stressed out "worker". Wow, wasn't that something I swore I wouldn't be in my teens. During this coming week, these stencils will find themselves on dishtowels. I'll post that as they come to life. In the meantime, here are some pictures of the stencils I cut.

So, where am I going with this? Tonight, one of my friends shared these amazing memorial celebration cards she made for her dad. Tomorrow will mark the first anniversary of his passing. They were just beautiful and very heartfelt. Three days from today will mark five years and four months since my dad passed away. Not a day goes by that I don't think about my dad. I think about everything, I guess. The times he encouraged me, bitched at me, got mad at me, laughed with me, provided for me, and ultimately depended on me.

My dad, as I've mentioned here before, did not have an idealic, charming childhood, yet managed to overcome that and provide for his kids what he didn't have. Mind you, we didn't get "everything" we wanted. If we wanted a coke from the drive through, we were told no, we had coke at home. You wanted cheese on that burger, no, we had cheese at home. You wanted that Easy Bake Oven, no, we had an oven at home. This could really go on forever. With my dad, we had to learn that if you wanted something, you had to work for it and earn it. After all, "money doesn't grow on trees". I never liked that saying because, to this day, I want that tree! Surely at the time of my bratty youth, I didn't like this, but now, I appreciate it.

My dad, like so many other dads, grew up in a different time and were able to accomplish things and succeed beyond their fathers. The obstacles they faced are beyond our comprehension, really, and this does not go unnoticed by me. When I think about my dad, daily, I think about the funny things, the annoying things (surely I annoyed him more than he could have ever annoyed me!), the lessons, his patience, and how much I now miss him. I also daily think about and wish for the conversations we didn't have. That by far, is the hardest thing.

If you're lucky enough to still have your dad around, do take advantage of that and don't wait until it's too late to wish for what you could have said, done, or had. I feel I said most things, but when it came to my grandmother, he wouldn't talk and I didn't push too hard. Darn. If only I had. Who knows, really. My dad was pretty stubborn, to be honest. And, if you're lucky enough to still have your dad around, I envy you. Take full advantage of that.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Forest Lawn Cemetery

On Saturday, August 14, my sister and took a trip to Forest Lawn in Glendale, CA. We went to find the grave of our great uncle Bill's second wife, Edith. She died in 1959 and is buried there with her parents and siblings. In an earlier post I said I'd address this trip. Here goes.

Not only did we venture out there to find and photograph Edith's grave (and her family), but we thought we'd honor some of the photo requests for Forest Lawn on a fabulous website called Why not, I've actually added two photo requests myself, plus, I was going there so I was in a position to "help" someone out.

The Forest Lawn website has a great index of grave locations, yet no maps. Hmm. We got there. It was hot and there were a few funerals going on. We stopped upon arrival at the info booth and asked for maps (none online) and got a map of the cemetery. This map showed the locations in the cemetery of the various plots, but did not, like Inglewood Park Cemetery, have maps of the plots that showed the locations of the graves!

So, we wasted so much time walking through plots, in the heat, up steep hills, attempting to read ancient markers to determine if we were anywhere close to the location within the plot we needed to be. What a challenge and what a realization that I'm out of shape. This was tough. I couldn't believe that this big chain called Forest Lawn, had such poor map options! After much sweat, panting, and just getting nowhere, we decided to head back to the info booth for help. What we got was a very helpful employee that attempted to give us a photocopy of the area of the plot where the graves we were looking for were located.

Needless to say, this did not really include the street names within the cemetery and was just not helpful. We'll have to go back for another attempt. In my humble opinion, this HUGE chain and HUGE cemetery should really get up to speed with their maps. Can that really be so hard? Looks like I'm going to have to call FL and suggest they check out Inglewood Parks website for help.

Monday, August 23, 2010


Bessie was Lola's older sister. They were about a year or so apart. As usual, I was hitting non-stop brick walls in my search for my grandmother, and decided to focus some of Bessie. She was born in Illinois in 1893. I haven't been able to find much on Bessie yet; here's what I have so far.

In 1900, she was living with her family in Joliet, IL. By the 1910 census, she was a teenager living as a border with a family in Decatur.

In 1920, she was married to a man named Ben and living in Greenville, IL. Ben appears to have been from a large family, having brothers William, Horace (father of Grace) and Charles (father of Lillian), plus several sisters. I found Ben's WWI Draft Registration where he indicated that he was married and living Greenville, IL. That was June of 1917. So, I'm assuming they married around 1914 - 1917 (a marriage certificate I'll have to locate).

Then, there is the 1930 census. Bessie is a patient at Alton State Hospital! So, naturally, I wonder what was up with that! Why was not only Lola in a State hospital in California, but her sister was in one in Illinois. Why was Bessie a patient there and for how long? I did some message board research and found that the State of Illinois is about as difficult to deal with as California when it comes to obtaining these records even though it was SOOO long ago and the "patients" are long gone. Some interesting advice that was on the message boards was that some people had success (not from the hospital) but rather from obtaining the probate files. I'm going to try to obtain Bessie's probate records. Maybe these will tell stories.

Bessie's mother, Effie, died in 1931 in Decatur, IL. Bessie was mentioned in Effie's obituary as a surviving daughter, wife of Ben and living in Greenville, IL. Besides that, the other thing I found on Bessie was her death in the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) and her brief obituary. According to the obituary, she was the wife of Ben and, among her many survivors were her two nieces, Lillian and Grace (see above). She died in a nursing home in Peoria, IL in 1976.

I found that I could order Bessie's death certificate (it was more than 20 years ago) as a "genealogy copy". I got that certificate this past Saturday. Most death certificates I've seen indicate the number of years the person lived at the "residence". In Bessie's case, not so. I hoped to find out how long she had been in that nursing home. A few other "interesting" things on her death certificate were her date of birth and name of her parents. Now I realize that a death certificate is only as accurate as the informant, and in Bessie's case, the informant was an employee apparently from the "Mortuary Records".

So, Bessie's d/c listed her date of birth as May of 1894. All censuses Bessie was on indicated her DOB as July of 1893, including her social security death index. But not the d/c. Actually the birth year of 1894 is more in line with Lola. Lola, from what I have found so far, was born around October of 1894. The other odd thing was Bessie's parents. They were correctly identified as George and Effie, however neither had the correct last names. George's last name on Bessie's d/c was Lola's married last name and not his last name! Effie's last name (which should have been her maiden name) was an incorrect version of her last name when she was married to George.

This got me wondering what the heck was up. Earlier this year when I went to the Los Angeles County Registrar Recorder's office to the marriage records of their brother William (aka Bill), I found that he had listed his mother also with Lola's married last name! That was in 1942. Bill did have an adopted sister who died in Los Angeles in 1941, and her first name and that of Bill's "mother" were the same.

A few other earlier things I found and cannot be certain they are relative to my great aunt. Bessie's husband Ben (as mentioned above) had several brothers, one of them being William. I found William's 1942 World War II Draft Registration and he listed a "Mrs. Bessie" as the person who would always know your address". I also found that William died in 1944 and I ordered his death certificate. The informant was his wife, Bessie. Hmm. So, was this my Bessie, or was that just a common name and these two brothers just happened to be married to women named Bessie. The widow on William's death certificate did not have a birth year similar to my Bessie; the "widow" Bessie was younger. Again, another reason to get my Bessie's probate records.

A few final notes - I have yet to find Ben's death. I totally believe he is dead, as he was born well over 100 years ago. Also, I have been able to track some of the family of Bessie's above mentioned nieces, Lillian and Grace. I did reach out to one of Lillian's descendants (or so I believe) but haven't yet heard back. I have just yesterday found one of Grace's descendants via Ancestry (I believe this person to be Grace's great grand daughter) and will now reach out to her. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that either she knows something, or can put me in contact with someone who does.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Inglewood Park Cemetery

I made a trip out to Inglewood Park Cemetery this past Friday to photograph the graves of Lola's aunt and uncle Hattie and William; and Lola's cousin (Aunt Zadie's daughter) Mabel. My sister went along for the "photo shoot".

I called the cemetery in advance to find out the burial locations and was given that information. I then was able to print the plot maps from the website. What a valuable tool that was! We were able to find the graves we were looking for in no time, unlike our Saturday trip to Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale (yes, the burial place of Michael Jackson). More on that "photo trip" in another post.

We found and photographed Mabel's grave. I was so hoping that her husband, Delmer, would have been buried by her so that I could "close" that on my tree. That wasn't the case. She appeared to be buried alone. We then followed the map to the plot where Hattie and William are buried. We parked at the plot and followed the map to the lot number. There Hattie was. Next to Hattie was a square of grass and then next to that grass, another grave marker of someone else. Seeing that, just bothered me. My sister and I felt that their son, Estel, must have blown through the money his parents had. He was living with them in 1938 when his mother died (this was after his wife filed for divorce) and he was the informant. His father died 10 years later (after spending 10 months in the facility known as Norwalk State Hospital).

I was hoping (and maybe this is a stretch) that I'd find a grave with Lola's name on it near either Hattie or Mabel, but, no such luck. Maybe I need to consider the possibility that Lola, upon being released from Norwalk State Hospital, either remarried or changed her name. It is just too strange that I cannot find any indication of her death. The search continues...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Death Certificates Arrived...

and they were enlightening (greater knowledge and understanding about a subject or situation). So, my previous post addressed my great grandmother Effie's death certificate and my being advised to pay close attention to her "other contributing factors" to death. Hmm. I didn't know what to expect. When I opened the envelope, I wasn't really surprised. She died from a condition called "interstitial nephritis" (inflammation of the kidney). It was "chronic" I gather from the abbreviation on the certificate.

The not so surprising part was the contributing factors - chronic alcoholism. In a previous post about Effie, I shared some of the newspaper articles about her, and they did seem to revolve around her being intoxicated in public. When I shared this information with my mom, she wasn't surprised. She seemed to recall my dad saying that Lola and Red were drinkers. I kind of wonder if Lola's drinking contributed to her being locked up in a State Mental Facility in the 1930s. After all, that was a time when women (in particular) could be committed seemingly easily.

In fact, Lola's sister, Bessie, was a patient in an Illinois State Hospital in 1930! She was married and I cannot seem to find her husband in 1930. I wonder. These were women that had hard lives and I am really trying hard to gather information and details about them to understand this. Not only does California require the mysterious "court order" to obtain hospital records for someone deceased, Illinois does as well. Ugh. I did order Bessie's death certificate and hope to receive that soon. I'm curious as to her cause of death and contributing factors, as well as informant. I imagine the informant might be a nurse, as she died in a nursing home. Her obituary did mention nieces as survivors, and I have attempted contact with descendants, but to no avail at this time. I may need to make another attempt to contact these people via email (I found a message board post where he gave his email address - my unanswered contacts in this case were via Ancestry account.)

I also got the death certificate of my great grandfather, George (Lola's father). I saw the name of his parents. Additionally, I ordered the death certificate of George's sister Kate. It looks like they had the same father but different mothers. I also got place of birth for their parents. I found that Kate's informant was her daughter Emma. Well, know who would think that two women named Emma, living in Kansas with daughter named Maxine, born in Illinois with last names so similar that I assumed the newspaper made a typo, could exist. When I typed in the first name Emma and the last name in the article, living in Kansas, in the Ancestry search, I found an Emma in Kansas with a daughter Maxine. The last was SOOO close, I thought it was her. This Emma was married to Fred. Well, when I got Kate's death certificate I found that Emma was not Mrs. Fred, but rather Mrs. JA. I found them. The correct Emma was not born in Germany and was not raised by another family. I can't express the value of death certificates, if you are doing genealogy search - searching for people you knew absolutely nothing about.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Suspense is Too Much

This week I became a member of ISGS, Illinois State Genealogical Society. I thought this would be a great way to get research help, tips, and ideas from experts in the state where my grandmother and her family lived. You can also order copies of 1916 through 1947 death certificates through ISGS. A nice benefit of being a member is that ISGS can get the copies for you for $6 (members) or $10 (non-members). When I joined, I also ordered six death certificates. Too bad they do not offer the same service for the archived marriage certificates that I want to get my hands on!

Shortly after I joined and submitted my order for the six death certificates, I received communication welcoming me from a member! I replied and gave her an overview of my search (and the people in my tree I'm researching) and what I hoped to be able to achieve. I also mentioned my planned upcoming trip to Illinois in the fall and told her I'd like to be as well prepared as possible and welcomed suggestions in order to best utilize the time there.

So, after a few back and forth messages, I did ask if I'd receive the death certificates via email or US mail. I heard back from her this morning and she put them in the US mail on Monday, so I should be receiving them any day now! She also told me to pay special attention to Effie's, writing, "I think it is going to give you some ideas of the family dynamics re: contributing cause of death." I can't wait for the documents to arrive and I'm not sure if I'm excited to see it or scared to see it! Either way, it sounds interesting. Funny thing though, originally, I wasn't planning to order Effie's d/c and I couldn't tell you why other than I have her obituary and didn't see the point (stupid reason I think). But when I was placing the orders, I had a last minute feeling and added her. Oh man.

Monday, August 2, 2010

George and Kate

George was my great grandfather, my dad's grandfather, and Lola's father. Going into this "family history" research, I probably knew just a slight bit more about George than anyone (besides Lola). I knew what my dad told me and that was that George left his young family to "return to Germany to fight for the Kaiser". That little bit of family "history" made sense when I began my on-line search and discovered the family not living together in 1910, and that George appeared to have vanished. I have been able to find him (on-line) after 1900, and then he resurfaced from what I can find in 1915.

Again, I have been able to find him either through the historical documents on or in my new favorite "search engine", I spent nearly the entire past weekend doing research and opted to focus on George and the fact that in an old newspaper article, George was in town visiting his sister! Well, I was jazzed. The article was appropriate for the time. Back then women were identified as Mrs. and the first and last name of their husbands. I then searched Ancestry for her husband and I found them. Not only did I find Kate or Catherine (each document has her name different or spelled different - Katie, Kate, Catharine, Katherine, Catherine), but found they had three children - Armand, D'Arlene and Grace. Her husband was also named George and he was a physician and surgeon. I also looked back at George's WWI draft registration and found he listed Kate (that is what he called her, so I will call her that, too) as his "Nearest Relative".

In order to add Kate as my great grandfather's sibling, I had to add a father. That was easy - I just used the surname and nothing else. I was then able to add Kate and then search. I found them in both 1920 and 1930. Then I decided to search the newspaper archives for Kate's last name in Decatur and found that in 1928, a Louise and her three children were in town to visit her parents, George and Kate. The article listed her with a hyphenated lasted name (maiden and married). I searched Ancestry for Louise by her married name and found her in 1920, newly married to Harry and then in 1930 as head of household, with three young children (Virginia, Clayton and Armand). It was actually hard to read the letter used for marital status so I'm not sure if it was D (divorce) or W (widow).

Naturally, I had to dig further to find out about Louise prior to her getting married and so I searched Louise by her maiden name and found her! Thank God she was a modern gal and went by her maiden and married name, otherwise it may have taken me a bit longer to put the family member pieces together. My search of Louise by her maiden name explained why I didn't find her when I searched for her step-father, George. In both 1900 and 1910, the last name was spelled wrong on the census and therefore, transcribed wrong into the searchable database. The other thing I found, was Louise's brother John.

I can look and these historical documents over and over, and each time I will notice something I hadn't noticed before. The 1900 census had some great questions such as "age at first marriage" and "mother of how many children" and "number of children living". She was the mother of four children, and three were living. OK, this was June of 1900. Kate and George married in March of 1900, and their three children were born between 1905 - 1910. Three children living, yet only two were living with her. Mind you, I have several windows open so that I can jump between my different databases, and when I noticed that Kate had three children, I went back to my NewspaperArchive search and found an article about her recovering from a serious illness and that her son John and daughter Emma from Kansas were visiting! Wow, Emma (and her little daughter Maxine). This article gave Emma's last name and I found her in Kansas married to Fred and with a daughter Maxine. This one will be a little more challenging as she lived and I believe died in Kansas (or so another great databased,, indicates)!

Emma was born in Germany and immigrated to the US the same year her mother did, but it so far seems that she may have lived with another German immigrant family and I think I shall have to research this to determine if Kate knew this family and immigrated with them. George did immigrate a few years before Kate and I still have not been able to find him at least in the 1880 census (I have seen his year of immigration listed as both 1876 and 1879, nor can I find parents or guardians as he was a young boy when he arrived.

There is one other search engine I'm quickly becoming attached to that is falling into FAV category for me and that is The Illinois State Archives database. You can search for marriages pre-1900 (although more are being added regularly beyond 1900), deaths pre-1916, and deaths 1916 - 1950. I have been able to find the dates and certificate numbers for many of my family members (my family is from Illinois), and have ordered several. I hope to prove that Kate and George are truly siblings and should be able to prove that my the documents listing names and birthplace of parents. The other cool thing these documents list is informant (death certificates) and witnesses (marriage certificates). It might not seem like it, but that is some "priceless" information to have when trying to find people.

Through the database, I discovered that two of Kate's daughters, Louise and D'Arlene, both died young. Louise died at 38 in 1930 and D'Arlene was 26 when she died in 1935. How sad that they died so young, I thought, so I've ordered their death records as I'm curious about that. I also wonder what became of Louise's three young children - who took care of them? It really does never end, this search, and still, I'm no closer to finding Lola, but I've found so many more people and I hope that through research, I'll finding living descendants and that someone will know something. I also got the death dates and death certificate numbers of George, Kate and Effie through the State Archives, as well as the dates of Kates two marriages - to John in 1886 and George in 1900, along with the date George and Effie married. I'm ordering these records as well as the death records and can't wait to get them!

Friday, July 30, 2010


Effie was my great grandmother, my dad's grandmother, and Lola's mother. As with pretty much everyone I found since beginning to look for my grandmother, Lola, I found Effie. I don't recall my dad ever mentioning either of his grandmothers. Both of them had their share of children and husbands. My dad's paternal grandmother, Hattie, had four husbands, while Effie had two (as far as I can tell).

One of the fascinating aspects of using on-line services for family history research is something called This is a pay service, but most genealogical societies have memberships that members can utilize, and does have some kind of relationship with, so that you can possibly find old newspaper articles about your family members when searching them on Ancestry. My own experience has suggested that I have found more information by having the additional access to the newspaper archives as not everything I've found there seems readily available on Ancestry.

Effie was born in Prairie Home, IL, in August of 1871. Naturally, that was a time when people had many children and this was no exception. She was one of 10 kids (or 11 by some accounts), born to Wells and Emma. I do not yet have any clue what her childhood was like, but I imagine as a young woman, she may have been rather scandalous for the time and I do find that rather intriguing! Again, I don't know that she was scandalous, she may have just been young and impressionable, for all I know. Yet, sadly, it appears that scandal (my choice of words and one I tend to enjoy) did seem to follow her.

I know that Effie married my great grandfather, George, Dec 31, 1892, even though the State Record of the marriage has the 14th of Dec, 1892 listed as the date. Effie then gave birth to her daughter, Bessie, in July of 1893. Hmm. Interestingly, Effie had a younger sister Bessie who died in 1893 and it seems to me that she may have honored her sister by naming her daughter after her.

Effie and George went on to have four more children - Lola (my grandmother) born in 1894; Monroe, born in 1895; George born in 1899; William born in 1901. I can't help but think that during this time, a time when birth control was not an option for women, that Effie may have had miscarriages between the births of Monroe and George.

The family seemed to be just fine (by on-line accounts) until 1910. That year found Effie and her children not living together and her husband George, nowhere to be found. In 1910 (per the US Census), Effie and all of her five children were living in different homes in Illinois as domestics or laborers working for board. I have noticed that Effie, like most women of that time, did not work out of the home, so when she found herself alone with five kids, I can only imagine what she went through. Effie was actually living as a "servant" in 1910, for an elderly woman, without her children. Her youngest child at that time, William, somehow ended up in Iowa at 8 years old.

I still cannot find any sign of my great grandfather, George, in 1910. I find this interesting. Family legend says that he left Effie and the kids to return to Germany. I don't know that I believe that as most records I find lead to his being quite young when he came to the US and he became a naturalized citizen in 1898.

So, when did the marriage crumble? I don't know yet. I do know that George and Effie were officially divorced in 1920. Prior to that, their son George listed his father as his nearest relative on his WWI draft registration.

And now, some interesting and possible facts about Effie...

Flashback to 21 December of 1889. Effie "preferred a charge of bastardy" against one Charles Cox. Whoa, preferred charges of bastardy? What is that exactly? From what I can tell, it boils down to Charles got Effie pregnant and then split. Common practice in modern times, but surely not in the late 1800s. In fact, Effie's father, Wells, was so outraged by this, that he was determined to make the young man (Charles, 25) "suffer the extreme penalty of the law for blighting the life of his daughter" (she was 17 or 18). Charges were to have been dropped had Charles married Effie, but that didn't happen and he was fined for his "crime".

What is interesting and something I just found is that Wells and his wife, Emma (Effie's parents) suddenly had a child show up on the 1900 census, a daughter named Zetta, born in May of 1890. I think she was Effie's child being raised by her parents, and have not yet been able to find her beyond the 1900 census.

OK - some more tidbits about Effie. Again, she was a woman that seems to have had much sorrow in her life, which may have ultimately lead to unsavory behavior:

Effie ... Insane
Effie ... was picked up by Officer Royse Tuesday night in an apparently demented condition. She was wandering around in the alley back of the Singleton restaurant. She was turned over to Sheriff Nicholson Wednesday morning and will probably be sent to Jacksonville. She has led a hard life and is well known to the police. Her mind seems to be entirely gone. She sat in a cell all night and talked with an imaginary person whom she thought was sitting beside her. Daily Review, The (Decatur, IL) 27 Sep 1911

Daily Review, The (Decatur, IL) 27 Sep 1911 Effie ..., who was picked up in a demented condition a few nights ago and who has since been in the county jail, is improving. It is now thought that her mental condition is due to a protracted spree (drunk and depressed, I am thinking).

Man and Woman Arrested
Effie ... and Charles Benvenuto were arrested by Officers Ray and Royse Saturday night in the vacant lot at the corner of Cerro Gordo street and Broadway. They were charged with disorderly conduct. Daily Review, The (Decatur, IL) 24 May 1914.

Surely, Effie knew that in 1912, her son Monroe died. Not to mention, her other children were living away from her and may have had minimal contact with her.

George did resurface, and was granted divorce in 1920. By then, Effie had a new husband and was still making appearances in the paper for things like fines for bootlegging, the last being two years before her death in 1931.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

California Memorial Project Follow Up

So, yesterday I was thinking about my arranged call with the California Memorial Project that just somehow never happened and decided to send a follow up email about it. We were supposed to talk on June 2 and that wasn't convenient and I was told that June 7 was better. I replied that I was fine with that. Then, again, nothing.

I'm hoping that I will hear something back. It has been more than 24 hours since the follow up email and "all is quiet" there. Maybe my "contact person" is on vacation (hopefully) and will get back to me next week. I just find it absolutely amazing that what began as a search for my grandmother has revealed tons of family members that I never knew existed, yet, nothing on Lola. I have found her parents, her aunts and uncles and cousins and siblings. I have even found the spouses and children of her cousins and siblings, just not her. She has, at this point, vanished "on record" after 1932. I know she lived and existed, yet don't know what ultimately happened to her. I know what I've heard from my dad and am not going to give up searching for answers. I know Lola was alive late 1930s to early 1940s when my dad last saw her. She was in the State Hospital at that time - the same hospital that will not even talk to me without a "court order".

Now, I'm thinking I need to focus on ordering some death records from Illinois. I'm going to get Bessie's (Lola's sister), Bessie's brother in law, William's, and my great grandfather, George's death records. Maybe there will be some hidden information in these certificates. I have found that often times, that is the case - names of people, addresses, burial information. From there, especially with burial information, is moturary contact and the possibiity of obituaries that have just escaped the internet. Obituaries are also full of information and names. Looks like I've got my weekend work cut out for me.

And speaking of the weekend, tomorrow is my day off and I'm going to take a fun workshop at the Pasadena Bead and Gem Show! This is going to be fun. The workshop focuses on glass cutting and soldering. I love doing that and have taken a few classes already, yet, once I leave these classes, I tend to NOT do anything. I hope that this will be the class that makes me break my mold and that I'll then come home and actually cut glass and solder and make pendants and the like.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Bill and Ann Get Married

Can I just say that on Thursday, July 15th, I got an email that caused me to gasp out loud! It was from Ann's niece, telling me that she and her cousin (I had the pleasure of meeting them in June) found pictures of Bill (formerly known here as William) and Ann's wedding day and they were going to be in the mail to me the next day! Well, I got those pictures on Saturday, June 17th, and they are wonderful!

Ann was Bill's third wife. They married in 1961 and remained married until his death in 1977. By all accounts they were very happy and had a wonderful life together. They had a nice home, a cabin in the mountains, and an ever present Boxer, Duchess.

I am only posting one picture at this time because I need to do some cleaning with PhotoShop on the other one and my computer with PhotoShop is currently acting up and on it's way to the desktop doctor. As soon as it's back and "all better", I'll fix and post the other wedding photos.

A brief recap, Bill was my great uncle; my grandmother, Lola's youngest brother. In 1910 when Lola was 16 years old and Bill was 8 or 9 years old, they were not living together as a family with their parents and other siblings (Bessie, Monroe, and George) but rather farmed out with other families working for their board. Mind you, their mother was too. Their father had abandoned them (or so the family lore goes). But, by 1920, Lola was married to Red and the mother of two young boys (Raymond who was 4 years old and Robert who was 2 years old), and lived in Mason City, IA. Bill (aka William) was living there too in the same house with them. I still cannot understand how they ended up living together after being separated by dire circumstances several years prior.

Then, in 1927 (seven years after the untimely death of Lola's first born son Raymond in 1920), Red and Lola came to California to visit her brother (Bill). They then moved to and remained here. In 1930, Bill and his first wife, Myrle, lived in an apartment in Huntington Park, CA and Lola, Red and my dad lived in a house in Huntington Park, CA. They obviously had contact. Enter 1932 - the last time I can find anything on Lola - in the 1932 Huntington Park City Directory - living as a housewife with Red. After that, nothing. I do know that it was "around" that time that Red left Lola and my dad. I know that my dad's sister (step sister in reality) was about 8 years old when Red began visiting her mother (around 1933). I know that there was a period of time (not sure of the duration) that my dad lived with his mother, minus his father.

Then, at some point in the mid to later 1930s, Lola was taken out of the home and locked up in a State Hospital. My dad then found himself living with the families of his friends as he did not want to be a ward of the state. He was a teen at this point. By 1940, he was a young man in his early 20s newly married. His final visit with Lola (as far as I know) was during the time of this first marriage (probably between 1939 and 1942 when they separated). He did not want to see Lola, but his first wife, Fern, convinced him to. He told me that she was in the State Hospital at that time (or so that is my recollection of what he told me).

Bill's first wife Myrle, died an early death in 1938 (at 37 years old). Bill then remarried in 1942. He married a woman named Edith. That marriage lasted until her death in 1959. In retrospect, I can't help but wonder if her having a strong and supportive family was a a part of the lure for Bill, having come from a broken family. He did have an adoptive family with siblings that kept tabs on him, considering him their family, and we are still trying to learn about those relationships.

When Bill married Ann (she also had a strong and supportive family) in 1961, Edith's brother, Arthur, and his sons, Charles and Albert were there with Bill at the wedding. The above picture, left to right, is Arthur, Bill, Charles and Albert. I'm sure other members of that family were there and I hope to gather more information soon on that. I had the absolute pleasure of speaking with Albert on the phone about a month ago. My "fancy" detective work, lead me to him. We are planning to meet at the end of the summer to share stories and photos and he's going to search his records for anything he might have including photos. That young, handsome guy above in the photo on the right, is now a very sharp, active, charming and vital 80 year old man! I can't wait to meet him in person and get his reaction to seeing the pictures! Plus, I can't wait to talk to him more.

So far, no one living that I've connected with that knew Bill, knew anything about his family. He never spoke about that. The feeling was that he had a rough upbringing and that he was very nice and rather quiet.

I find it interestingly sad that Bill had a strong connection with Lola, yet now, their past was really a mystery. When he married Ann in 1961 Lola was not there to my knowledge (if she was even alive then), nor was my dad (as far as I know). They were his blood relatives. However, his other family was there in force standing up for him and supporting him - the family of his late wife. He looks quite happy and comfortable with those guys. I am really happy about that, yet I'm really sad that I never had the opportunity to know Bill. I really wish I could talk to my dad right now as I have so many questions. I wonder if he'd answer them now; he really wouldn't answer questions when he was alive.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Song of the Week - 18

I was about three or four years old when the phenomenon known as the British Invasion hit the scene. This "invasion" consisted of British musical artists playing a new and "popular" style of music. Of course, I didn't know the term used at the time, but like most young children, I loved music, and this new British Invasion stuff, was no exception, apparently.

Growing up we had pets. Lots of them over the years - cats, dogs and birds. I don't remember how we ended up with a parakeet (or when he "moved in"), but his name was Ringo. He had a cage with all the little bird amenities that we'd cover every night. I learned years later, that I gave him that name. When the British Invasion landed, one of the main stars was The Beatles. Like so many, I loved them and their music, and still do to this day.

Something else I don't remember was watching the infamous Ed Sullivan show that The Beatles were on. The young female audience screamed so long and loud, that you couldn't hear the song. Apparently, I sat in front of the TV and screamed along with the girls in the studio. I learned that back then, I loved Ringo and would constantly say his name. Seems I had a huge crush on Ringo when I was a toddler.

This childhood obsession with Ringo Starr would surely mean that when he released his first solo single in 1971, I'd have to have it. Well, I did. I loved the song, and still do. This week's featured song, It Don't Come Easy, has an interesting title and theme. I suppose "it" don't come easy if what "it" is, is truly not something we really want. I tend to believe that what we truly want does come easy, but what "don't come easy" is recognizing the signs that lead us to our wants and dreams and desires. I was raised to be aware of the power of suggestion and following your heart, yet, like so many, I got caught up in crap that just got in the way of what I was after/wanted (or thought I wanted). Live and learn I suppose.

So, I wasted many years just existing really, and not following any dreams I had. I don't like to dwell in the past with regret but I do like to hang out there for the nostalgia. Besides, so much of that tends to shape the adults we become. Like the song says, "The future won't last, It will soon be your tomorrow" should become a new mantra, and a force to drive me (and everyone) to live in the present and move forward with my life and dreams with passion and not just "existing". So, right here and right now, I raise my glass and toast the present and make a vow to move forward in the direction of dreams that really do come easy, and to learn to see the opportunities that I'm attracting. Namaste.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Business Trip

Business trips are not something I do often. I have probably taken about four in the past two years. So, now I'm on another one. I suppose it is time.

I have been planning my research trip to Iowa and Illinois, just not getting it together, for several months now. I really wanted to go in the spring when the weather would be mild, but, just didn't make it happen. Part of the reason is that I have been attempting to make contact with family in Illinois, hoping for contacts before hitting the road. Establishing these contacts, oddly enough, hasn't been happening "overnight".

I have now been uncovering living members of Red's family, slowly, but by the time I had, the weather began to change. Summer arrived and so did heat and humidity in the Mid-West. Being a California girl, I decided I should push the trip out to the Fall when the weather will once again be mild.

Once I made that decision, I was asked to take this trip. So now, here I am in Mobile, AL and Pensacola, FL. It has been hot, warm and humid, and has been raining off and on since I arrived. Luckily cars and buildings have really good air conditioning, so the warm, humid, balmy weather is only felt when leaving a building for the car and visa verse.

I arrived in Mobile, AL on a Sunday night. When I walked out of the airport, I gasped. It was hot and humid and after 8 PM. That is NOT normal where I come from. The following day, I went to lunch with some of the people from the office and on our way back to work we saw two guys throwing blows on the divider between the highway and the service road! I couldn't believe what I was seeing!

I stayed at the Quality Inn in Mobile. There is one elevator in the place and someone dropped a piece of birthday cake in the elevator, picked it up but left tons of icing on the elevator floor. This was my first night there. The icing was still there Monday morning, but was finally cleaned up by the time I got back Monday night. Monday night was a late work night, so one of the managers decided to order pizza. I asked for a veggie pizza with no cheese. The pizza arrived and I got a pizza crust with sauce and no veggies. OK.

Wednesday night I needed to head down to Pensacola for a few days. Had to tough it out staying at the Hilton on the gulf. I had the most amazing view.

I ended up spending a week there and returned to Mobile this past Wednesday, back to the Quality Inn where my view isn't so grand; it's the Econo Lodge and the newly paved parking lot. Since being back in Mobile, I had lunch at LuLu's in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Jimmy Buffett's sister, Lucy, owns it. It was a busy place. Had a yummy salad and unsweetened iced tea.

Today, I went to a pretty cool store with a fun co-worker for a quick shopping trip. I saw the coolest T-shirts that I have never seen before. Fun designs screened on nice cotton. The line is called "Life is Good". I loved the whimsical designs and how these guys that started it are making a living doing something they love.

After hosting a short training course for a few new employees, I ran to Target to pick up the Netbook I've been eyeing since June when I attended a Genealogy convention. I couldn't believe it was on sale and selling for a reduction of $50! So, I got to Target and they were sold out and wouldn't give me a rain check. I just hope the sale will still be on tomorrow when I get home so I can pick it up and the sale price.

I ended my day and my trip with a fun dinner with some of the ladies from the office. We went to a fun place in the old downtown part of Mobile. It was quite pretty there. A nice mix of old and new, without the new being overpowering.

My time here has pretty much been non-stop work, but I did get to oh so briefly play tourist. I do like going to places where the lifestyle is so opposite of what I'm used to and I did have fun with my co-workers. I have missed sleeping in my own bed and I have really missed my cats! I can't wait to see them. With the majority of the past two weeks being pretty much consumed by work, my sketchbooks that came here with me were pretty much ignored. The other thing pretty much ignored, was my search for my grandmother, Lola. I did spend a little time working on my family tree last night. A "little time" turned into a good hour and a half. As tired as I was, I couldn't pull myself away from it. I look forward to getting home and getting back on that search.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Lola had a first cousin Mabel. Mabel was the daughter of Zadie. Zadie was Lola's mother, Effie's, sister. Mabel was born in Kansas. Her family then moved back to Zadie's home state of Illinois and then moved to Colorado. I have discovered that a few of Effie's sisters did move to Colorado, as did Effie's parents for a time.

Mabel married Delmer in Illinois and they had a daughter named Mildred. In 1920, they were all in Colorado. In 1930, they were all living in South Gate, California (a suburb of Los Angeles). In my previous post, I mentioned that my on-line research volunteer found what he believed to be Mabel's death in Los Angeles in 1936. This past Friday I made a trip to the LA County Recorder's office to pull the record. He was correct. It was the death of Lola's cousin Mabel. She was 51 years old and died at home. I still have no idea what type of relationship Lola had with Mabel, if any. Mabel was ten years older than Lola and, while they utlimately lived near one another, I still have not been able to make contact with anyone from that side of the family with any insight or information on my grandmother.

Also, in 1930, while living in South Gate, CA, Mildred was now married to Curtis. After this 1930 census, Mildred and Curtis had a daughter, but their marriage didn't last. I'm not sure when they divorced, but I do know that when Curtis died in 1949, he did have a different wife. A few years after Mabel's death, I lose site of Delmer, Mildred and Mildred's daughter in California, and suspect they may have returned to Colorado.

I also pulled the death record of my dad's first cousin, Don. I couldn't even tell you if my dad knew his first cousin lived in California. I can tell you that I didn't know this. Don's death record was very sad. I do know that he was a war veteran (Army) and when his father (Red's brother) died in 1960, Don was living in Arizona. But by the time Don died in 1969, he was living in Long Beach, California. He never married. He was 41 years old and was working as a cook at a restaurant. He died at the VA Hospital. I was so hoping for family in California to reach out to.

I did leave the Recorder's office feeling pretty down and wondering where to go next. At that point, I had reached out to other connections and was still waiting to hear back from them. So, what does one do at that point? One goes back to their tree on Ancestry and searches for Delmer. I found that Delmer came from a HUGE family. He had a brother, Gerald who was married to Mary, and they had a daughter "Lucille". Turns out they lived in South Pasadena, California (another LA suburb) in 1930, and Gerald and Mary both died in South Pas. Yes, new death records to go pull for information. True, the connection is via marriage, but it is a connection, nonetheless.

So, this past week has been busy. For one thing, I changed jobs with a friend/colleague and am now out of my comfort zone and learning some new things. I was also trying to get artwork together for the craft fair at work that I signed up to be a vendor at. I love drawing, painting, printmaking, yet, lately, I have been consumed by genealogy. I went to a fabulous genealogy convention and was so inspired by the speakers and vendors I met, and maybe let my artsy side slip a bit. So, these past few days found me struggling with making PhotoShop do what was in my head. The output isn't quite meeting my expectations. Ugh. Luckily, I have a friend who is extremely good at PhotoShop and he was able to give me a few pointers!

Also, I've been asked to take an out of state business trip. I agreed. Everything seems to be happening all at once, and I'm feeling overwhelmed. I will get past that, but surely am annoyed with myself for yet again, having limited craft fair inventory, still not populating my esty shop with artwork to sell, not being home for the upcoming four day 4th of July holiday weekend. Oh well.